How to Close a Vanguard Account


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Do you find yourself overwhelmed with tasks following the death of your loved one? Along with planning the funeral and closing the estate, you may also need to think about what to do with your loved one’s digital afterlife. (A person’s digital afterlife includes social media accounts, cloud data storage, and email accounts.)

This article will help you learn how to close a Vanguard account if you have your own Vanguard account or recently lost a loved one with an account through Vanguard.

Jump ahead to these sections:

We have looked through the fine print on Vanguard’s website to find the steps survivors need to take to close an account of a deceased loved one. We will also give you the information you need to close your own Vanguard account. 

Tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, closing accounts and other aspects of handling a loved one's unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of. 

» MORE: Online obituary that is 100% free. Honor a loved one beyond a newspaper.

How to Close Your Own Vanguard Account

Vanguard offers a lot of customer support options for its customers and the steps to close a Vanguard account depend on what type of account you have. 

Step 1: Obtain a zero balance in your account.

Only accounts with a zero balance can close. This means you need to sell your funds and transfer your balance before closing your account.

Step 2: Log into your Vanguard account.

Once you are logged into your account, contact Vanguard's customer service department through its online messaging system. You can make closure requests through this system.

You can also call Vanguard at 1-877-662-7447. The customer service department will answer the phone from Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST. Explain that you wish to close your account. You will need to confirm your identity to complete this process.

Step 3: Receive verification that your account has been closed.

Once you have gone through the steps to close your Vanguard account, ensure that you receive verification that the process was completed. 

You cannot close Vanguard mutual accounts online, but they will automatically close after 12-18 months of inactivity. 

If you don’t want to wait for your account to close automatically due to inactivity, contact Vanguard's customer service department and ask for it to happen immediately. 

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

How to Close a Deceased Loved One’s Vanguard Account

Vanguard has provided a helpful document to help those who need to settle their loved one’s accounts. Learn the steps you need to take to close the account. 

Step 1: Contact Vanguard.

Call Vanguard at 877-662-7447, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. Certain customer service representatives specialize in settling estates. 

If you list multiple beneficiaries, each person will have to call Vanguard separately. 

Step 2: Give the Vanguard account representatives information.

  • The account owner’s name and address
  • The last four digits of the account owner’s Social Security number
  • A copy of the death certificate

Vanguard will verify that you are listed as a beneficiary of the account.

Step 3: Learn about your options from the Vanguard customer service representative.

Vanguard offers many different account options for customers. What happens to the assets in the account depends on many factors, including the type of account, how it is set up, and the state of residence of the deceased.

Vanguard’s website suggests that you might want to meet with an attorney and an accountant who specialize in estates before making any financial decisions. 

Unless you were a joint owner on the account, you cannot simply put your name on your deceased loved one’s account to claim ownership. Instead, you will be required to give Vanguard (or another financial institution) your information to open an account of your own. The assets you inherited can then transfer into your own account.

If you do not plan to use Vanguard, get ready with account information from the other institution to ensure the funds can be transferred in a timely manner. 

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

Frequently Asked Questions: Closing a Vanguard Account

Do you have more questions about closing a Vanguard account? Learn some other questions you may want to have answered.

What happens when you close a Vanguard account?

You may be wondering whether or not you get charged a fee when closing a Vanguard account. The good news is that Vanguard does not charge account holders when they close an IRA. This is not true with other brokerages.

Do you have to pay any fees when you close a Vanguard account?

No, you do not have to pay any fees to close a Vanguard account.

As we mentioned, Vanguard has a lot of customer support options. You may get a lot of questions answered through Vanguard's website but may find yourself in a situation that requires additional assistance.

Learn about Vanguard's customer service options by visiting this page.

Take Care of Everything When a Loved One Dies

If your loved one died unexpectedly, you might be hit with a massive list of tasks to complete to settle your loved one’s estate. Of course, these tasks end up less complicated if your loved one left behind a will or trust. In that case, the executor will use the assets to pay the bills left behind before distributing what is left over to the beneficiaries.

Unfortunately, many people who die unexpectedly do not leave behind an end-of-life plan. This complicates matters. The number of hoops you may need to jump through before the assets distribute may seem overwhelming.

Do not use your loved one’s password manager to log into their accounts to make changes after they die. Even though settling the estate of someone without a will, trust, or designated beneficiaries invites complications, you must do it through appropriate legal means.


  1. “How Do I Close My Account?” Vanguard.

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